Thanksgiving week, I buy several whole turkeys and pop them in the freezer for a future butchering bee. At $ .59 a pound, it is the cheapest meat you will buy. With one turkey you can get about 6 meals out of it, depending on your family size.
Here is what I do. When ready to cut them up, I half thaw them in the fridge. This is important because you do not want your meat getting to room tempurature. This takes about two days to half thaw. Then I cut them up and separate them for future meals.
I know, I know. They (whoever they is, and don’t mention the FDA because it has little credibility with me) say you shouldn’t thaw and refreeze meat. The fact is, we all have done it and we are all still alive. The meat itself has a higher health risk than the fact you are thawing and possibly refreezing it. I only half thaw it in the refrigerator because you don’t want your meat to get to room temperature which will cause deterioration.
Gather your turkey, a sharp knife, a garden clipper, freezer bags or your vacuum sealer, 9 x 13 pan and a towel.
I put the turkey in the sink and cut the wrapper off. There will be some leaking of melted ice, etc., so having it in the sink keeps things clean. When your meat is half thawed, it will still be a bit hard but this actually makes it easier to cut. I do all the cutting with it in the sink. If you prefer, lay it on a bath towel and cut.
Cut off the thingy that keeps the legs together. Pull out anything stuffed into the turkey.
Cut the drum sticks off with a Garden Anvil Clipper. I find they work better than a scissors because they are so tough and sharp. Bend the drum stick to find the exact joint to nip in. Put these and each piece in the 9 x 13 holding pan.
Now cut off the wings. Again, bend to find the joint. Use the clipper again to easily cut the bones. You can cut the wing tip off leaving only the meaty portion.
Now carve off each thigh as close to the bone as possible. Your fingers probably feel frozen by now and it helps to run under warm water.
Cut off the breast meat as close as possible. If you wish, you can cut the breasts with rib cage attached. Use your knife to cut the meat to the bone and then the clipper to cut the ribs free from the back bone.
Now you have two of each: breasts, thighs, wings, legs and a carcass with still a good amount of meat on it. Take your clipper and cut the carcass in half. The clipper cuts these hollow bones easily. You can either throw the carcass into a soup pot to make soup broth or freeze that, too, and make soup another day. Don’t waste this! It makes divine soup or broth stock.
Now all you have to do is separate your meat into portions as you wish. You can decide whether you want to keep the skin on or not at this point but do not put the skin into your “stock” pan or bag. It just makes your broth greasy. I don’t use any innards for soup but do use the neck. I also cut the tail off. It’s just fatty and gross to me.
Now mark and freeze. Each turkey will take about 30 minutes to process.
Cutting up a turkey in this manner also makes a way to roast a turkey quickly. Once apart, just lay on 9 x 13 pan and bake. What normally takes 3-4 hours now will take about 45 minutes or less.
Happy Homesteading! Scarlett